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Dec 8 2023

This is the end

Live updates in 2020 and 2023 (Image: Tina Tiller)

Well, it’s 4.30pm on a Friday which feels as appropriate time as ever to say goodbye. The Spinoff’s live updates have come to an end, almost four years after they were first switched on.

If you missed my explainer this morning of what’s going on, here it is. In short: things are different now than they were in early 2020. There aren’t daily 1pm press conferences that the country is glued to, the election has wrapped up, and things feel a little bit “normal” for the first time since before the pandemic.

But I’m not going anywhere and there remains a place for news on The Spinoff, just in a slightly different format. We’ll have more regular live blogs and longer form reports. I can’t wait to get stuck into some of those.

So after 1,200 or so days, and literally thousands of updates (I just checked, and since we updated our website in late 2021 there have been over 6,000 live updates published on The Spinoff), it’s time for live updates to be switched off.

Keep in touch, send me all of your news tips, and see you on the other side.

Read more: Why we’re shifting our approach to daily news

Live updates in 2020 and 2023 (Image: Tina Tiller)

Investigation into alleged vaccine data breach ongoing

Some are raising concerns that those aged 65 are being offered a less effective vaccine than they were last year. (Image: Archi Banal)

Te Whatu Ora is continuing to investigate after a data breach that saw vaccine-related information shared online last week.

The agency is liaising with the Privacy Commissioner and said it will make “any appropriate notifications” if individuals were impacted by the breach.

“Alongside the work to identify the material allegedly disclosed by the individual, we have continued to pursue all avenues to take down the information if it reappears and appreciate the cooperation we have received from domestic and international platforms,” said Margie Apa, chief executive Te Whatu Ora, in a statement.

At this point, Te Whatu Ora said it would not be commenting on specifics of the data. The Spinoff has asked several questions about possible information contained within the data in recent days, but has been told nothing more can be released.

“Police are continuing to investigate, and we are cooperating fully with them. We can’t comment any further on the proceedings before the court,” said Apa.

“Alongside our operational response we are looking at our processes for data security and making any changes that are needed to further improve the security of information.”

Apa reiterated that vaccination was safe and effective.

Waka Kotahi back to being NZTA, board members quit

Waka Kotahi has begun the process of re-adopting its former name, the New Zealand Transport Agency (or NZTA).

It follows a directive from the new government that public agencies should have their primary name in English and not te reo. This came as part of the coalition deal between National and New Zealand First.

According to the Herald, no formal request had been received from the government. However, a spokesperson for the agency said: “We are aware of the policy of the new government that public service organisations should have their primary name in English, and we are taking appropriate actions to give effect to this policy.”

Meanwhile, the Herald has also reported on changes at the agency’s board. Chair Paul Reynolds has resignedafter 11 months, while Patrick Reynolds (yes, they are both Reynolds) has quit the board. Cassandra Cowley has been appointed acting chairwoman.

Transport minister Simeon Brown thanked them for their service.

In case you missed it earlier in the week, I encourage you to read Toby Manhire’s excellent piece “What is ‘NZTA’? A user’s guide to the new, English names“.

BBC host denies she was ‘flipping the bird’ after live faux pas

Accidental Partridge is one of my favourite Twitter (I am never going to call it X) accounts, and given today is the last day of live updates I think it’s absolutely fair I include a video from it. If you don’t know why it’s called Accidental Partridge, go watch all of I’m Alan Partridge on TVNZ+ immediately – call it work.

Anyway, I love anytime a news reporter gets caught in the wild doing something they shouldn’t. Here’s the clip.

It’s so good, and I think should be allowed anyway. It reminds of that time Eric Young gave this “on-air salute” on Prime News.

For balance sake, here’s the official response.

PM Luxon visits cyclone-hit parts of Hawke’s Bay

National leader Christopher Luxon (Photo: Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

The prime minister is spending the day out of Wellington, touring parts of cyclone-damaged Hawke’s Bay and meeting with senior leaders in the community.

Christopher Luxon began the day in Wairoa, where he met with mayor Craig Little. Later, he’ll head to Napier for a meeting with regional council members. Luxon was also meant to visit Esk Valley, but for logistical reasons has not been able to today.

As explained by the Herald’s Adam Pearse, it’s a change of scene for Luxon after what has been a busy week in Wellington. Yesterday marked the first question time clash between the prime minister and opposition leader Chris Hipkins, while MPs also debated a government motion to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The prime minister will speak to media later today.

Listen: The real cost of the smoking excise tax

To replace $700 million a year of revenues lost from a foreign buyers tax, the new coalition government is dumping the previous government’s smokefree 2025 goal. This relaxing of policies will keep more people smoking for longer, costing thousands of lives per year and at least $10 billion is extra health costs and lost working hours. In this week’s episode of When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey speaks with University of Otago public health researcher Andrew Waa about his analysis of the changes to smokefree, and finds out the true costs of reversing them.

Ryan Bridge to host Three’s new 7pm show

Bernadine Oliver-Kerby, Ryan Bridge, Melissa Chan-Green and William Waiirua host Three’s new AM show. Image: Supplied/Tina Tiller

With The Project wrapping up last week (you can read Duncan Greive’s excellent reflections on that here), Warner Bros Discovery has announced broadcaster Ryan Bridge will host a brand new current affairs show for Three.

The currently unnamed show will focus on live news and interviews and is a return to the single-host format of programmes like Holmes and Campbell Live.

With Bridge moving to the evenings, press gallery reporter and former Today FM host Lloyd Burr will join Newshub’s AM, alongside current co-host Melissa Chan-Green.

“It’s different from what has come before in that it’s going to be much harder, I think, in its approach,” Bridge told the Herald’s Shayne Currie. “It’s more news-focused and [with an] emphasis on live.

“[That’s] something that I definitely have a preference for. Obviously, you have to do some pre-record stuff, but I just love being live on telly – that’s what I love doing in the morning.”

Burr said he’s excited to be moving back to live broadcasting, leaving the parliamentary press gallery. “I’ve been fortunate to have a front row seat to many new events over the past 13 years – but the seat I’m looking forward to the most is the one on AM,” Burr said. “I’m excited to join such a brilliant, dynamic team and I couldn’t think of anyone better to share the couch with than Mel.”

Both shows will launch in the new year.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros has announced an eclectic new line-up that includes a Taranaki-set musical called Happiness that has been dubbed “New Zealand’s answer to Glee” and n00b, set in Gore in 2005, that the broadcaster describes as “New Zealand’s answer to Sex Education”.

The Bulletin: Covid data leaker was largely unknown in conspiracy circles

Te Whatu Ora IT worker Barry Young had a “relatively muted” digital presence prior to his arrest last week over a massive Covid data breach, Stuff reports. Young has since become something of a cause celebre among vacccine sceptics, appearing on online shows hosted by local conspiracy theorist Liz Gunn and US extremist Alex Jones. Both hosts hailed Young as a “whistleblower” and spoke to him at length about his reasons for leaking the data. Experts who have reviewed the data say it does not prove any link between the Covid vaccine and excess deaths.

Young, who has worked for the health agency off and on since 2008, appears to have ramped up his social media use in recent weeks. On LinkedIn, he called Jacinda Ardern a “truly disgusting human being” and likened the Covid-19 response to that of Nazi Germany. However he does not appear to have been a regular poster, at least under his own name. “Prominent sceptic Kelvin Morgan, who has kept tabs on the anti-vaccination movement for years, said he hadn’t seen Young’s name popping up in any of the spaces that conspiracy theorists often post,” Stuff reports.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 39,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture. 

Home Brew back with first album in over a decade and slot at Laneway

Home Brew. (Photo: Supplied)

After an 11 year hiatus, legendary Aotearoa hip-hop group Home Brew are back today with their first new album in over a decade, Run it Back, and will continue that reunion at Laneway Festival in February.

Breaking their indefinite hiatus, Run it Back comes off the back off the 2023 re-release of Tom Scott and Haz Beat’s self-titled debut album, which earned Home Brew another #1 in the NZ Top 40 Charts.

“I used to think I had to keep making the same mistakes to make another Home Brew album,” Tom Scott says. “Thought I had to stay the person I was then forever. But, nah, that was something I made up. I dug my own pigeonhole. Truth is that nobody wanted me to stay the same forever. They wanted me to grow.”

“And I’m not the only one who has grown up – the people who grew up with that album grew up too.”

Home Brew. (Photo: Supplied)

The announcement follows the release of the first part of a documentary of the same name, which revisits the roots of the act’s meteoric rise from humble beginnings to becoming a force in the music industry, tracing the evolution of their sound and style over the past 11 years.

The first chapter of the story surrounding Home Brew, one of Aotearoa’s most enigmatic and fabled hip-hop groups, has dropped ahead of their long-awaited sophomore album release today. The documentary, RUN IT BACK, revisits the roots of Home Brew’s meteoric rise, from humble beginnings to becoming a driving force in the music industry and traces the evolution of their sound, style, and influence over the past 11 years.

Run it Back can be streamed on all available platforms, and you can buy tickets to Laneway Festival here.